A 12-year-old Georgia girl may have died as an indirect result of a severe lice infestation that may have gone on for years, investigators said. The new details on the August death of Kaitlyn Yozviak were discussed during a preliminary hearing Monday after which Wilkinson County Superior Court Judge Brenda Trammell agreed there was enough evidence for second-degree murder charges against parents Mary Katherine “Katie” Horton and Joey Yozviak to go forward to a grand jury. The couple was also charged with second-degree child cruelty. Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Ryan Hilton testified that medical records show Kaitlyn died from cardiac arrest with a secondary cause being severe anemia, WMAZ-TV reported. The GBI earlier said the girl suffered “excessive physical pain due to medical negligence."
Hilton testified that, at the time of her death, Kaitlyn had “the most severe” lice infestation that the GBI’s office had ever seen, and it may have lasted on and off for at least three years. He said he believed repeated bites from the lice lowered her blood iron levels, which likely caused the anemia, and may have triggered the cardiac attack. When agents got to the home in August, the inside was filthy and in disrepair with vermin covering the mattress, stuffed animals, and other furniture in Kaitlyn’s room, Hilton said. WMAZ has more on the family's history with the state Department of Family and Children Services, which notes Kaitlyn's brothers were removed from the home due to its condition. The only entries related to Kaitlyn before her death appear to be at her 2008 birth and in 2018, when the AP reports she was placed with her aunt for six days before returning home. (Read more lice stories.)